PRACTICE PRACTICAL LIFE SKILLS IN THE KITCHEN WITH LEARNING TOWER
If you’re looking to incorporate more Montessori practical life with your little one, the kitchen is an amazing place to let exploration and learning happen. There are so many opportunities to get your little one involved in the daily tasks of cooking or washing up - and let’s face it, what child doesn’t like playing with water or putting things in their mouth?!
To help get your little one up to the kitchen counter or sink, learning towers are clearly a great tool. But, what do they do once they’re up there? You may be thinking: “Isn’t cooking dinner alone enough work? How am I supposed to cook and keep my little one busy and safe at the same time!?”
The most important thing to remember is that with Montessori we aim for authentic practical life experiences. This means your child would not just be ‘busy’ at their learning tower but actually contributing to whatever you are preparing. In our home, if we are cooking breakfast, our little one is also cooking breakfast. If we are baking a birthday cake, our little one is also baking a birthday cake.
It is important to remember to give authentic tasks that contribute to the end goal and to make sure those tasks are interesting and enjoyable for your child. Have realistic expectations - fingers will be digging into the butter, the spoon will be licked, eggs will be dropped (or thrown!), it will be messy! But thanks to that learning tower, your child can also help clean up the counters once finished, our daughter loves wiping everything clean after baking. We have made a list here of some of the ways a learning tower could be used to get your little one involved with practical life in the kitchen.
Working in the kitchen gives children such rewarding practical life skills while developing their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, language development, as well as early math and science knowledge.
Here are the Top 10 BENEFITS OF PRACTICAL LIFE IN THE KITCHEN:
- Improves hand-eye coordination
- Develops fine motor skills
- Strengthens small muscles in hands and wrists needed later for holding a pencil
- Gives children responsibility and a feeling of importance
- Builds a healthy relationship with food
- Encourages early math knowledge
- Improves language development
- Builds confidence and independence in the kitchen: a life-long skill
- Encourages young children to explore with their senses
- Builds focus and the skill of paying close attention to detail
Some of our favorite tasks with kids in the kitchen:
Scooping the oatmeal out of the bag and pouring it into the pot for breakfast (give a smaller scoop for more scooping practice!)
Scooping and Pouring ingredients into the mixing bowl - either pre-measure into smaller bowls for your little one to dump into a big bowl, or for a more joint activity I let my daughter hold the measuring scoops and I pour from the big bags or let her scoop while I keep count
Peeling the skins off garlic. (Tip: I crunch with a flat knife first so the skin is looser, setting her up for success)
Cutting and chopping- start with soft foods and dull knives such as a butter knife. My daughter loves cutting up dragon fruit for snack time. Or cutting Chả during Tet holiday (Vietnamese Lunar New Year).
Cutting spring onions with scissors
- Cracking and mixing eggs - it gets messy, just mentally prepare for raw egg everywhere, including in your little child’s mouth!
- Mixing and stirring ANYTHING
Washing fruits and vegetables- partially fill the sink, add a bit of vinegar, and let your little one scrub some carrots with a bristle brush
Washing up dishes in the sink- just prepare for water to go everywhere ( I usually lay a towel on the floor), a bottle brush, and cups/bottles are a great place to start!
- Cook pancakes for breakfast
The learning opportunities are endless with practical life in the kitchen. Inviting your child to be up on your level in the kitchen (with a Learning towel) will not only stop them from tugging at your leg wanting to be picked up as you prepare dinner but will give them the chance to develop an important life skill in a positive environment. Learning towers give your child the freedom and independence to explore their interests and natural curiosities in the kitchen.
We at Góc Montessori hope you found this article useful. Be sure to check out our related blog article on learning towers here.
>> Products mentioned in this article: learning towers